Volokh: Evidence Lacking on Faith-Based Prison Programs


In a review of research on the subject in his Washington Post blog, law professor Alexander (Sasha) Volokh of Emory University calls into question the effectiveness of faith-based prison programs. He writes, “The only credible studies done so far compare participants with non-participants who volunteered for the program but were rejected. Some studies in this category find no effect, but some do find a modest effect. But even those that find an effect are subject to additional critiques: for instance, participants may have benefited from being exposed to treatment resources that non-participants were denied.”

He continues, “Thus, based on current research, there is no strong reason to believe that faith-based prisons work. However, there is also no strong reason to believe that they do not work. I conclude with thoughts on how faith-based prison programs might be improved, and offer a strategy that would allow such experimentation to proceed consistent with the Constitution.”

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